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PM News Brief: National guard COVID response, Evan McMullin fundraising & Utah tax cuts

Utah National Guard COVID Response Flickr.jpg
Tech. Sgt. John Winn
/
151st Air Refueling Wing
About 50 members of the Utah National Guard have been called to assist with COVID in long-term care facilities. That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022

State

Utah’s substitute teacher shortage is sign of larger economic problem 

Schools this year have raised pay for subs, offered bonuses and even resorted to asking parents to help out in an effort to address widespread staffing shortages. State employees can also get paid time off to fill in, following an executive order from Gov. Spencer Cox Monday. For some districts, the efforts have helped. About 40 parents signed up to sub in the Murray City School District, for example. But Department of Workforce Services economist Mark Knold said there are deeper issues at play. While Utah is a growing state, the number of people available to work is far below the number of available jobs. Read the full story. — Jon Reed

Utahns in favor of Legislature efforts to cut taxes

The Utah Legislature is weighing tax cuts this year. A new poll shows reducing the income tax rate and the food sales tax are the two most popular measures with each proposal getting about 33% approval. Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson contracted polling agency Dan Jones and Associates to gather the data. Findings showed the majority of Utahns support a legislative audit of the state’s elections. People are also in favor of school choice and changing zoning policies to increase the availability of housing. — Caroline Ballard

Evan McMullin raises more than Sen. Mike Lee to end 2021

Independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin outraised the incumbent Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, in the most recent fundraising period. The newest figures set the stage for an expensive race as Lee tries to defend his seat. During the final three months of 2021, McMullin pulled in more than a million dollars — almost double Lee’s total. But Lee had a big head start on fundraising. All together, he has more than twice the amount of cash on hand than McMullin does. — Sonja Hutson & Associated Press

Utah National Guard to assist in COVID response at long-term care facilities

About 50 members of the Utah National Guard have been called to assist with COVID in long-term care facilities. The recent omicron surge has led to staff shortages in hospitals and facilities across the state. Utah’s health department requested the National Guard through the month of February. Service members are required to attend a two-day training course before being assigned to a facility. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 7,800 residents in long-term care settings have had COVID-19 and 911 people have died from it. — Ross Terrell

Region/Nation

Living near fracking sites has negative health outcomes

In a new landmark study, researchers at Harvard found elderly people living near fracking sites face a heightened risk of premature death. The study analyzed the health records of 15 million people on Medicare and found that they were at greater risk of dying compared to those living far away from these sites. — Robyn Vincent, Mountain West News Bureau

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